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A Charlie Bielinski Pop-Ed: A Brutal, Relentless Virus Is Great Excuse to Revisit Cinematic Gems

I’ve been sick for almost two weeks at this point, so I have watched quite a few movies and a lot of television in my waking hours while lying on the couch. Thankfully, I have come across a few gems that I first viewed years ago and I wanted to write about them this week. They employ a similar narrative structure that when done well may possibly be my favorite way to tell a story. Quentin Tarantino is the master of this method, telling a story from multiple perspectives with characters who sometimes appear to not have a direct connection to each other. I’d have to really think about it, but I am fairly certain that the first time I ever saw this was in Pulp Fiction and the two movies that I have seen many times these past 10 days thanks to cable are often compared to Pulp Fiction.

Snatch was Guy Ritchie’s followup to Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. He has made a couple of commercially successful films with the Sherlock Holmes films since then and also made a couple of films very close in style to Snatch, as well, but I still think this is my favorite. The Holmes films are good and I enjoy them but Snatch is something I can watch, and have this week, multiple times and enjoy it every viewing.

Jason Statham is featured as Turkish, who along with his friend and partner, Tommy, is involved with some bad people who are trying to fix a bare knuckles boxing match. I am a big fan of Statham and I am excited to see him in the next Fast and Furious film, as I have enjoyed his work in The Transporter series (which is being re-imagined apparently … sigh) and both Expendables films. This film may feature my favorite performance of his so far Turkish picks up a baseball bat against overwhelming odds and you can see the determination in his eyes as he goes to protect his property despite knowing he doesn’t stand a chance.

The beautiful thing about Brad Pitt in this film is that Taran Killam’s Saturday Night Live version of Brad Pitt is nowhere to be found. Pitt is a good actor but definitely has some trademark mannerisms and line deliveries. Yeah, he’s still Brad Pitt, but as much as someone of his status can disappear into a role, he does during his time onscreen. I like the rest of the movie but the scenes with Statham, Pitt and Stephen Graham are the scenes that I can watch over and over. There is also a really cool story involving some awesome nicknames like Bullet Tooth Tony (he really has a Bullet for a tooth) and Boris the Blade (a character who is feared by everyone because of his past). Throw in Dennis Farina and Benicio del Toro and some really clever writing and directing by Ritchie, and this is a film that is well worth your time. In fact, I recommend it even when you aren’t held captive by a brutal, relentless virus (OK, OK — maybe it wasn’t all that bad).

The other movie that has kept me from falling asleep during this week and a half was released two years before Snatch. Go also features some illegal activity and even though it may not seem as though the stakes are quite as high and there may be a few more laughs it is still just as gripping. I think Go has become more known for early appearances from stars Katie Holmes, the former Mrs. Tom Cruise, and the man who has gone on to become Raylan Givens, Timothy Olyphant. It is cool to see those two and others such as Jay Mohr, Taye Diggs, Scott Wolf and William Fichter, but it is really the story that is why you should watch.

There are actually three separate stories involved and they are only tangentially related. In one story, Diggs' character and three friends are on a trip to Las Vegas that goes so bad they end up being chased out of the city by a club owner and his bouncer son. A second story involves Olyphant as a drug dealer and Holmes and her friend played by Sarah Polley. However, it is the third story that is my favorite. Wolf and Mohr play two soap opera stars busted by Fichtner and forced to be wear wires, as Fichtner’s cop looks for a bigger arrest than these two. Ecstasy provides the connection for the three stories and the three never all intersect at the same time. There are lots of laughs and some serious shocks and that is not easily done or done well in the same film. I’m not going to say it’s Tarantino level cool but it is Tarantino light and I mean that in the best way possible.

I saw both of these movies in the theater and both have been sitting on my DVD shelf since their release. I have frequently pulled them off the shelf for viewings in the past and always watch them when I find them on television but it had been a long time since I had seen either of them. The shocking moments in each still haven’t lost their impact. Sure, I don’t jump at those but I can still appreciate and remember the shock I experienced the first time. The humor is still there and the laughs are present, however. Although I wasn’t at all happy to be sick I am glad some scheduler decided that February was the best month to air these two movies that had become lost among my DVD collection recently.
A Charlie Bielinski Pop-Ed: A Brutal, Relentless Virus Is Great Excuse to Revisit Cinematic Gems Reviewed by Charlie Bielinski on 2/17/2014 Rating: 5

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